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New, Less Expensive Smog Tests Are Not Yet Available

(LOS ANGELES, Oct. 25, 2010) — Following news reports about new and less expensive smog tests, many consumers and Auto Club members may mistakenly believe that the new tests are now available, according to inquiries received by the Automobile Club of Southern California.  The new tests are required under Assembly Bill 2289, which the Auto Club supported, but don’t take effect until 2013.
The new regulations are expected to improve the state’s Smog Check program by reducing pollution (up to 70 tons per day) through the use of new technologies – on-board diagnostics -- that reduce time and increase savings to consumers. In addition, the measure will improve consumer protections by adopting more stringent fines against stations and technicians that perform improper inspections. (On-board diagnostics allow an owner or repair technician to identify and fix malfunctions within a vehicle.)

California’s smog check statutes have not been revised in any significant way since the program was restructured in 1994, according to the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center Manager Steve Mazor.  “Utilizing on-board diagnostics instead of tailpipe tests will reduce the time to perform a test significantly. This should result in lower costs and more accurate detection of high emitter vehicles,” he said.
News organizations announced partial details of the new “cheaper" smog tests that consumers will be able to have performed on their cars.  One local news segment aired the story as though the new cheaper tests are available now and consumers should expect to see reduced smog check fees and shorter tests. 
“We have been fielding questions from members and other consumers who believe these tests are now available because of what they said they saw on television newscasts.  What may not have been apparent during these televised news reports was that the new testing procedures will not go into effect until mid-2013,” said Dave Skaien of the AAA-Approved Auto Repair Program.  “Until then, current test procedures must be followed and the time necessary to test the vehicle and the fees the state requires will not change.” 
California vehicle emissions control laws and regulations require a smog check when:
  • Your California vehicle registration renewal notice says "Smog Certification Required." Most vehicles registered in this state must pass a smog check every two years, and the DMV informs motorists when their vehicle’s smog check time is coming up.
  • You are selling your vehicle (you must get a Smog Certificate before you can complete the sale).
  • You’re bringing your vehicle into California to be registered (you can’t get it registered until you’ve gotten the Smog Certificate).
Smog inspections are not required for the following vehicles:
  • Hybrid
  • Gasoline-powered 1975 year model or older
  • Electric
  • Natural gas powered with a GVWR rating of more than 14,000 lbs.
  • Motorcycle
  • Trailer
  • Diesel powered manufactured prior to 1998 or with a Gross Vehicle Weight rating (GVWR) of more  than 14,000 lbs
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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.